Jakob Poeltl is ready to step up for the San Antonio Spurs in Orlando
If were being honest, even under the most ideal circumstances, the San Antonio Spurs playoff chances were slim. They’re four games back of the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies and will have to fight tooth and nail over the final eight games in Orlando if they want to keep their playoff streak alive.
Sadly, the Spurs are not operating under normal circumstances. Like every other team they’ll be coming off of several months without organized basketball and will have to work hard to get back into a groove. But unlike most teams, the San Antonio Spurs will be heading to Florida without one of their most crucial players.
The news that star big man LaMarcus Aldridge would miss the rest of the regular season and the playoffs after undergoing shoulder surgery came like a gut punch to Spurs fans. Without their star forward the teams postseason chances went from slim to nearly nonexistent.
To the organizations’ credit, they’ve taken steps to help shore up their frontcourt in Aldridge’s absence. They signed Tyler Zeller to a two-year deal as an insurance policy and will be forced to get creative with their lineups over these final eight games. But out of all the players on the Spurs roster, no one is going to have to shoulder a greater load with LaMarcus out than Jakob Poeltl.
Poeltl knows he needs to step up for San Antonio Spurs
In a recent video that the San Antonio Spurs tweeted out, Poeltl made it abundantly clear that he knows that the pressure will be on him and the other young guys to step up in Aldridge’s absence and that’s a challenge he’s more than ready to take on.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 4, 2020
“We’re losing one of our best players, obviously, and everybody needs to step up to fill that hole and I’m going to take that challenge personally. With us losing a big man I have to step up and perform.”
Poeltl emerged as one of the leagues most impactful defensive big men in his second season with the San Antonio Spurs but still has a way to go before he reaches his full potential. He’s proven that he can be a force around the rim on the defensive end but with Aldridge out the Spurs are going to need him to come through on offense in a way that he hasn’t be asked to do before.
As he approaches restricted free agency this summer, these final eight games are a great opportunity for Poeltl to prove to the Spurs, and any other team that may have their eyes on him, that he should be treated like a franchise building block. Even as the league trends away from low post centers, there will always be a place for a player with Jakob’s defensive abilities.
Poeltl isn’t the only young Spur ready to show out in Orlando. Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker are sporting fresh cuts and they’re coming at everyone’s necks in these final few games. Count Derrick White and Keldon Johnson into that group as well.
They might not be title contenders but make no mistake, the San Antonio Spurs and their group of young, hungry players are still a force to be reckoned with when the NBA season resumes in just under a month.